Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 July 2014
47. Amnesty International Report 1998: FRY: For the Period January – December 1997
Approximately 34 ethnic Albanian political prisoners were convicted, mostly after unfair trials. Scores of others remained in prison. Some may have been prisoners of conscience. Police routinely tortured or ill-treated detainees and peaceful demonstrators. Most victims were ethnic Albanians from Kosovo province, but some were Serbs. At least three people died in police custody. At least three people were sentenced to death.
At the start of the year, demonstrations led by supporters of the Zajedno (Together) coalition of opposition parties continued in Belgrade and other towns, as the authorities refused to reinstate local election results which they had overturned in late 1996 (see Amnesty International Report 1997). After continued international pressure, the authorities conceded the opposition victories in February.
In Kosovo province, ethnic Albanian political parties continued to demand independence for the province by peaceful means. However, violent attacks against police stations, police officers, Serb civilians and ethnic Albanians working for or with the authorities occurred throughout the year. Among dozens of victims were two police officers who were shot near Srbica in August and an ethnic Albanian civilian who was travelling in their car. Responsibility for many of the attacks was claimed by a clandestine organization called the Ushtria Clirimitare e Kosovës (UCK), Kosovo Liberation Army. Police responses to the violent attacks included what appeared to be indiscriminate arrests and house searches.
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